Many Super Smash Bros. Ultimate fans believed that adding Byleth to the roster in January 2020 was one Fire Emblem character too many and, surprisingly, so does game director Masahiro Sakurai. Does that mean we are in for a more diverse set of characters in the six upcoming Fighters Pass 2 DLC pack releases?
Let's take a closer look at Sakurai's latest statements and what they reveal about the future of Smash Bros. Ultimate and the Fighters Pass 2.
Will we ever see a new sword boi (or girl) added to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate ever again? Maybe not.
In an interview with Japanese games magazine Famitsu published Wednesday, Smash Bros. Ultimate game director Masahiro Sakurai revealed that like the vast majority of players, he recognizes that the game is now saturated with too many characters from the Fire Emblem franchise, and his comments feel like a clue about what we might expect from the future of Smash.
“I understand [that] there are too many [Fire Emblem] characters and there are also too many sword users,” Sakurai said, according to a translated version of the interview by Japanese games insider BlackKite. “But it has been decided like that so I just proceed as is [and] since there are so many sword users, I [brought] in tactics exclusive to each fighter.”
Based on his comments, it also seems like adding the protagonist of Fire Emblem: Three Houses wasn’t Sakurai’s decision at all. He's been tasked with making the best out of a decision made by individuals even higher up in Nintendo's hierarchy, likely in an attempt to boost interest in the Fire Emblem game.
Corporate synergy. Gotta love it!
While Sakurai admitted that he occasionally doesn't get the final say as to what DLC fighters will be added to the Smash Bros. Ultimate roster, he clearly wants to pump the brakes on all of the swordies. That could mean Byleth is the final sword-swinger to join Smash Ultimate, or, at the very least, the last one from Fire Emblem.
Byleth is the eighth Fire Emblem character to join Smash Ultimate, and depending on what you consider a "sword character," you could make the argument that there around 20 of them in the game right now. (Not all of them wield a sword as their primary attacking weapon, but if you include Meta Knight's blade and Joker's dagger the number gets very high.)
For most fans, Byleth wasn’t exactly their top pick as the final DLC character of Fighter Pass 1, but it’s easy to see why Nintendo wanted them in the game. Fire Emblem: Three Houses sold 2.29 million copies between April and September 2019, making it the best worldwide debut of a Fire Emblem game in the franchise’s history. Capitalizing on that with a Smash Bros. tie-in feels like a no-brainer, even if fans are tired of Fire Emblem heroes with swords.
During the same Nintendo Direct during which Byleth was announced, Sakurai confirmed that all six of the Fighter Pass 2 characters have already been decided and are in development. He also announced that they’d all be released by December 31, 2021 — so the next two years will include a steady stream of Smash Ultimate DLC. Are we meant to see a trend here with Nintendo prioritizing business synergy over a diverse character roster as part of their long-term plan?
Smash Ultimate has always been a grab-bag of Nintendo’s greatest hits, and Three Houses sold so well that the company wanted to flex its latest success by adding the character. Now that a Three Houses character has been added, however, it must give Sakurai more leeway to add different third-party characters or more fighters from under-represented franchises within the Nintendo umbrella.
Either way, it's probably safe to say that Fighters Pass 2 probably won't have a sword-wielder as one of the six characters, and it definitely won't include another Fire Emblem fighter. Who does that leave?
Nintendo might end up adding a character from recently successful titles like Pokémon Sword and Shield. Sakurai is aware that fans want a wider variety of combatants that represent different franchises. There's no real way to predict who the heroes might be just yet, but these recent comments about swords and Fire Emblem tell us what not to expect.
The Fighters Pass 2 is currently available in the Nintendo eShop.